The do's and don'ts of finances for newlyweds
Finances for newlyweds are the last thing on your mind when you're blissfully floating in a perfect world with your new boo. But money fights and money problems are the leading cause of stress in a relationship and play a role in every leading cause of divorce. Money is a necessity to understand and communicate with your spouse on.
The Do's of Finances for Newlyweds
Do Talk About Your Financial Past & Future
Unfortunately, I still hear stories about couples who don't talk about their financial situations until their marriage is already suffering from it. It is essential for couples to upfront and honest about their finances.
First talk about your history with money. Were you ever told 'no'? Did your parents talk about money with you? What negative and positive experiences you've had with money? These answers can tell you a lot about your spouse's point of view and that's important to keep in mind as you navigate tough financial decisions.
Then talk about your future, establish your "why" for the financial decisions you're making. Couples who have goals but no reason behind them often don't see them through. Once you have your "why" establish goals around it. These can include saving an emergency fund or getting out of debt but think bigger than that. Do you want to retire early? Be a stay-at-home mom? Buy a homestead and live off the grid? Think big and keep your "why" in mind.
Talking about the future should also include some decision consensus. Like how you'll deal with unplanned expenses, charitable giving, what to do when family or friends ask for money, beneficiaries, and legal stuff. When money situations come up they're usually pretty emotional so take the time to establish what you agree on and what you're going to compromise on. You won't catch everything up front but it'll be better to navigate those first few years with some guidelines.
Do Create a Budget
My life changed in so many ways when I got married. Amidst all the change we started budgeting together. Every couple starts new habits in their new marriage; you can make them healthy ones.
We look at our schedule the last week of every month and set aside an hour to do our budget. I make the budget then I give it to him and he has to change one thing about it. Our first few budget meetings were definitely longer than expected and went on throughout the month. But sticking with it, even when we failed, is what has kept us on track to achieving those goals we set.
Pro Tip: The budget is about more than creating healthy financial habits, it makes you work as a team. And there's no better feeling than having your spouse as your co-captain, conquering the world together!
Do Merge Finances
If you have the same why, share goals, and budget together, you should combine your incomes. The main reason is that it makes your life easier; the underlying reason is the accountability it gives you when spending. There's a transparency in combining bank accounts that's painful but healthy for your marriage.
The stipulations for this would be for a spouse who has their own business. That income should be kept separate but you should get to a point where you're paying yourself a salary and that should be combined in your joint account. And, while incomes should be combined, your debts should be kept separate. This is to safeguard you if your spouse dies or in the unfortunate case of divorce.
Do Set up Your Retirement Accounts
If you get married at a stage where you're out of debt and have savings then don't wait on setting up Roth IRAs. Even if you don't max them out the first few years the longer money sits there the more it'll grow to. #CompoundInterest
Do Get Part-Time Jobs
There's no better time to hustle than when you're young, broke, and married. The main secret to our success is how hard we work. We both have multiple jobs and plan on keeping them until we're debt free, have an emergency fund, and a down-payment on a house.
I know people say the first year of marriage is special and you should spend it enjoying each other and learning new things. But A) it doesn't take 365 days to have these conversations and B) I will enjoy my husband so much more when we've paid off our student loans and are on a cruise to the Bahamas (paid for in cash.)
Some goals you'll work really hard on for a short period of time and others will take time and you can relax. But you should have goals and always be working towards them.
The Don'ts of Finances for Newlyweds
Don't Buy a House
Dave Ramsey says "It takes a year of marriage to know how close buy from your mother-in-law." Man's got some wisdom. So even if you can afford it, wait a bit to figure out some things because it's very probable that in your first year of marriage some of those "whys" and goals will change.
Who said just because you're a Mrs. you need a Kitchen Aid (not knockin, I love mine) or because you're hitched you need a new giant TV Screen (your video games will look just fine on the old one.)
Don't fall into this trap of upgrading just because you're married. It's better to take your clothes to the laundry mat (or mom's house) until you can afford that washer and dryer, don't waste money financing it. Save up and pay cash for things you want.
Don't Have a Baby
Babies require a lot of upfront costs and when you're laying the foundation for your finances they can throw a real wrench in it. Consider waiting until you've accomplished a few goals to have kids.
I'm all for having kids, I want to stay at home with mine and adopt, that's why I'm working the extra hours now and making sacrifices today so they can benefit later. (But don't get me wrong they're getting jobs, just like we did, when they turn 16.)
Also, don't get a dog just because you're waiting to have a baby. That's wrong on so many levels.
Don't Keep Secrets
One time I bought a bottle of vodka (that was over and beyond my personal budget) and didn't tell my husband. I don't remember how he found out but I remember he wasn't mad that I broke the budget, he was just confused and disappointed as to why I didn't tell him. I learned that day that money is about more than your finances, it's the most intimate thing outside the bedroom and your spouse should be part of it.
There you have it, a brief guide to finances for newlyweds. I'm going to quite a few weddings in the next couple months and I'd love to dedicate this post to those couples. Marriage is the friggin best when you work together, communicate, and keep laughing. Blessings to you and your new adventure!
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